Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15, ESV)
This passage in Revelation echoes back to the sixth seal:
The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:14, ESV)
Revelation 20 amplifies the final judgment spoken of earlier and fills in some of the details. All people will stand before God in judgment. There are two sets of books. The first set contains the record of everyone's activities, good and bad. We know that if anyone were to try to justify their right to enter heaven based on their activities, they will be found wanting. The Apostle Paul tells us in very strong language:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18, ESV)
You might say, that doesn't describe me. However, this is the Bible's description of all of us in our natural condition. We all have sinned. While we may not physically shed blood, there are times we cut down other people in our thoughts and words, which is shedding their blood, diminishing those people. And from this description of each person, sin from God's perspective is very heinous and serious. It is so serious that if we are judged only by the first set of books, we face eternal punishment which is described as being cast into the lake of fire. The only way to not be judged by the first set of books is to have your name written in the other book, the book of life. All who recognize their sin, their need of Christ's death to pay for their sin, and who cling to Christ, they will have their names written in the book of life.
For those whose names are written in the book of life they have the rest of Revelation to look forward to. The next two entries will briefly look at that.